Whether it’s flexible labelers or tags that provide vital plant information to consumers, today’s greenhouse growers have many needs when it comes to tags and labeling system. Here, plant tag and label manufacturers discuss the biggest concerns they are hearing from growers, and how their new products are addressing these needs.
Great Lakes Label
According to Tony Cook, Owner and CEO of Great Lakes Label, growers are looking for tri-panel labels that can be peeled open to provide more valuable space for crucial information.
“They are also interested in our WetStick label, which resists moisture so effectively that it can be applied underwater. This durable label also sticks to textured surfaces such as decorative pots.”
When it comes to automation, Cook cites a number of new products Great Lakes Label has developed:
• The Tag Labeling System allows for flexibility when it comes to major retailers increasing the requirements for individual plant tags. On some occasions, different prices are required on the same version of a tag by these major retailers in order to be sent to various regions. The Tag Labeling System allows growers to efficiently handle these requirements.
“Applying by hand uses too much labor, and throwing unusable tags away can cost companies thousands of dollars,” Cook says. “The Tag Labeling System provides the option to over-label, which reduces material waste and increases material efficiency.”
• The High-Speed Labeling System labels stacked pots, both round and square. It works at a rate of up to 225 containers per minute on average for print and apply, and up to 375 containers per minute on average for apply only. Label sizes are a minimum of 1.25 by 1.25 inches with a standard blow box applicator. Smaller labels can be applied using a tamp/blow application. Label sizes can reach a maximum size of 5 by 5 inches with a standard blow box applicator.
• The Label Gator 2.0 now has upgraded software. Introduced at Cultivate’16, the system utilizes the same simple user interface for the operator. Users can now quickly set operator buttons from an infinite number of preset label formats. It has been expanded to six variable fields, one UPC field, one fixed data field, and one date field. Rotate any field individually to orient on the label as needed.
• The Two-Sided Labeling System labels the sides of individual containers or trays up to 280 per minute based on container and label size. It is compatible with round and square containers as well as trays and flats. The label is typically 2.25 inches high, based on standard peel edge; however, optional peel edge widths are available upon request.
• The Propagator Labeling System labels the front of seed propagation trays at a rate of 20 trays per minute, depending on product length and spacing. The label size is 4 to 6 inches wide by 0.5 to 0.75 of an inch in height.
Gerry Giorgio, Creative Director at MasterTag, says one trend that he is seeing is the request for pricing to be added to the tag. This is mostly driven by large retailers and their tag providers, he says; however, these trends tend to expand out to the greater market.
“We are beginning to see requests for pricing on tags increasing across all strata of growers,” Giorgio says.
When it comes to new products, MasterTag has introduced a line of printed pots called SpotLight. These can be printed using the same high-resolution process as MasterTag’s other printed products, incorporating graphics and images that expand and complement the tag.
“SpotLight pots, when designed with the consumer in mind, can add value to all plant products, as well as be an effective branded package,” Giorgio says. SpotLight Pots offer growers:
• Consumer-ready themes with coordinating tags
• Custom designs to fit any program
• High-resolution printing process that relates to high quality images and graphics
• Low quantities, so retailers can keep displays fresh
• Availability in trade gallon and quart sizes and as drop-in or grower pots.
Horticultural Marketing & Printing
The biggest things growers are looking for now in tags and labels, according to Todd Davis, Director, OnSyte Products at Horticultural Marketing & Printing, is a solution for printing their high-quality color tags in house. Doing so can solve a lot of problems, Davis says.
“When you produce them yourself, you can print as few varieties — short runs — as you want. This is impossible to do when you’re getting all your tags printed by tag companies.”
Second, Davis says, there’s no wait time. If you have an order that needs to ship, you don’t have to wait weeks for them to be produced.
“Growers have told us that printing their own tags has increased their sales by thousands of dollars,” Davis says. “When their availability lists indicate no color tags available for a certain plant, those plants don’t move and they end up in the dumpster. But with tags produced in house, these plants turn into revenue that would have been lost.”
Another advantage to printing your own color tags, Davis says, is that you can easily create custom programs for retail customers, trial new marketing programs on a small scale, and even sell test trial plants you may have grown only 50 to 100 total units.
Printing yourself also means that you’re not inventorying thousands or millions of tags for hundreds of varieties. This frees up cash flow, and also leads to less waste because there are always tags in your inventory that won’t be used and eventually get thrown away.
Locking In Tags
Another thing growers are considering, Davis says, is using more tags that lock into rims of pots or flats. The advantage is that they don’t fall out in shipping, and consumers at retail locations can’t remove them easily.
“A less obvious advantage is that, in many cases, this means growers can get away with one tag instead of two,” Davis says. “It’s pretty common for growers to use one black-and-white sticker tag on pots and flats. This would contain the basics like weights, measures, point of origin, etc., that’s required by law.”
Then the color tag has the photo and the variety information, etc.
“With locking tags, you can put both on a single tag because you’re not afraid of losing the tag during shipping or at retail,” Davis says.
The newest product at Horticultural Marketing & Printing is the UVPlus 931E color printer and the accompanying TagXpress software system.
According to Davis, the UVPlus produces professional-quality, high-resolution tags with the highest level of fade resistance available on the market. Growers can produce their own color hang tags, signs, and even pot stakes that will not begin to fade for at least one year.
“With TagXpress, growers are able to easily produce beautiful color tags, and TagXpress can be set up to work in conjunction their existing POS systems,” Davis says. “Growers can also have access to the extensive Horticultural Marketing & Printing photo database through a new program we’ve launched.”
Another new product is Mobile Advantage, which gives gardening consumers access to loads of plant information via text messaging. It also gives the green industry a look at what information consumers want, who’s asking for it, when they’re asking for it, and where they’re asking for it.
“With these analytics, growers are starting to target-market to consumers in ways they never thought possible,” Davis says. “Mobile Advantage does everything people thought QR codes would accomplish, only in a format that consumers will actually use.”
Tags prompt consumers to text a code to a number, and they receive back a link to a website that can be accessed on their smart phones. The website consumers receive can contain information you could never fit on a tag — extensive growing information, plant history, companion plants, tie-in products, etc.
What’s Coming In The Future?
Print-on-demand is going to be cheaper, faster, and better,” Davis says. “We’ve been researching and trialing these systems for many years. What’s available now is good, but it’s only going to get better.”
As this technology gets cheaper and easier, Davis says more growers are going to take advantage of it.
“That means more directed plant information for consumers, which means they’ll have more success, which means we’ll sell even more plants.”
There is no question that big box stores are looking to group multiple plants together to increase sales, says Steven Kunreuther, President of Texpak, Inc.
“Any system that they adopt will need to be easy for the growers to assemble at their facility and inexpensive.”
Texpak’s Flora-Grip system was tested by The Home Depot in 2015, and according to Kunreuther, the retailer realized an 82% sell-through rate.
“Two of the reasons that this type of packaging works is that it aids the consumer in getting what they want with less effort, and it increases impulse purchases,” Kunreuther says.
With the three pot system, clips are applied between the pots, and a handle is connected to the clips. The handles are partially reprinted and come on rolls, which gives the grower or retailer maximum flexibility. The handles can be run through a thermal transfer printer, and prices, bar codes, and logos can be added at the last minute.
For more information, go to Texpak.com.